There are many ways to organise your dogs daily schedule. Each of the very successful handlers (well in South Africa anyway) has a different opinion about what a working dog should be doing during the day. Some just let their dogs roam the yard during the day, others crate their dogs most of the day. A few have their dogs with them the entire day... Me? Well first of all my dogs are never left outside when we are not there. We live in South Africa, the chances of some jack*ss tossing something poisonous/hazardous/disgusting/foul/old/vrot over your wall, is a huge possibility. Second thing is that Delta is certifiable. If I am not there to remind him to take deep breaths to get a little bit of oxygen to his brain, he will go ballistic at anything that moves in or close the yard, particulary motorbikes, hadidas (for those that don't know these big*ss loud birds, please see picture below), helicopters and invisible flying saucers (well it MUST be that, because I sure as hell can't see them). I also don't want to risk any of my dogs getting injured while we are not there. I also like to have 'fresh' dogs when I get home, better for training. Besides, except for the odd nutter like Delta dog, most dogs sleep when we are not around. So when I get up (anytime between 02h30 and 03h45), I run around with Volt in the garden, like a maniac for a little while, throw a few balls for the older boys, chill with them, feed them and let them be. When Ants leaves at 08h00 or 09h00 in the mornings, he shuts the dogs in the house. Delta in his crate, otherwise he opens and climbs through the windows, Echo in the bathroom, otherwise he picks the lock to the dogfood room and helps himself, Volt in his crate, because he is a maniac puppy. The other two get to lounge around in the lounge.
|Huge *ss, Loud Hadida. Common birds in South Africa.|
So by the time I get home, my dogs are well rested and ready to go. Depending on the time of year, I will do 2 or 3 training sessions a day (of about 5min each). Okay so now I am finally going to get to my point. I believe that there is a time for everything in your dog's life:
Benefit to me: I love agility and I love training my dogs.
Benefit to the dogs: They love agility and they love training.
2. JUST play. Yes, all my dogs think agility is a huge, very fun game, but sometimes they should be able to catch a ball or tug, without having to hear one command from you. Play does not ONLY have to be a reward. At least once a day, I just play with the dogs.
Benefit to me: I get to sit on my arse, while my dogs get rid of some excess energy.
Benefit to the dogs: They get rid of excess energy and it does wonders for their fitness.
3. Just hanging out. Not cuddling necessarily, but just chilling in each others company. I love to cuddle my dogs, but not all of them agree with this. Chaos's favourite place is on my feet, where ever I go, but oh zeus, don't try and cuddle him. He looks at you in a disgusted fashion and then buggers off to a corner behind the couch where I CANNOT cuddle him. Echo on the other hand, is a Pringle, once you pop, you can't stop. He doesn't just rest his head on your leg, he pushes down with the power of a magnetic forcefield. So I know my dogs and spend the quality time that THEY like with each of them.
Benefit to me: Keeps me semi-sane. Does wonders on a bad day.
Benefit to the dogs: They love me, why wouldn't they enjoy this.
4. Free running, doing in the yard/field what they would like to do, without you interfering every 5 seconds.
Benefit to me: I get 5 seconds to vacuum the bale of dog hair that has accumulated, before they come in and start shedding all over again.
Benefit to the dogs: They get to pee on all 11 the trees in the garden... twice.
5. Being restricted/crated. Take my word for it, this really is a GOOD thing for dogs, so all you bunny-huggers that protest outside my house with animal rights posters and fake blood... get a life and READ a bit. Dogs also need their alone/down time, but often they cannot create this time for themselves. My dogs love their crates, they spend a lot of time in them voluntarily, would they do that if I was being oh so cruel?
Benefit to me: I also need down time sometimes. And I know I have created a place of safety which I can use in case of an emergency.
Benefit to the dogs: They get a bit of time off. It prevents them from becoming over-stimulated. They have a safe place.
I try and work all those things into my dogs' daily schedule, it is not always possible, but I make sure they get plenty of everything. I call it the 5 step plan to maintaining sanity. Those 5 things do wonders for me, and it does wonders for my dogs. I do take them out for walks, but not as often. South Africa is not a dog friendly or dog aware country. There are very few places where dogs are allowed (closest one is about 15km from me), there are many many strays and often people don't shut their dogs up properly, so walking around the neighbourhood is not really an option. And it is not the safest country in the world. Just two months ago, two of my agility friends were attacked while walking their Shelties in the park next to our show grounds. I do try to take them swimming and walking at the dog park at least once every two weeks. And of course they get to go to shows every week.
And ofc my cats also demand their fair share of attention.
First show of the year in 2 days, woohoo! It is about time. Goal number one, is to maintain the aggressive running style handling that I have been practising, I would like to avoid anyone taking me up on that b*tch slap invitation. I am not making predictions or jinxing anything, but I am fit, Chaos is fit, we have trained, we have bonded even more. We are ready. I am so organised this year, that I have already prepared all the Gauteng League templates... how nerdy is that?